Shoulder Pain Costs Billions of Dollars Per Year

Shoulder Pain Summary

The shoulder is an amazing joint. When your shoulder is healthy, you can swing it 360 degrees full circle in two different planes. Try doing that with your other ball-and-socket joint, the hip! The shoulder has this large range of motion because standard joint is aided by the rotator cuff, a collection of muscles, tendons, and bursa. Your shoulder joint is composed of three bones: the clavicle or collarbone, the scapula or shoulder blade, and the humerus or upper arm bone.

Since we ask the shoulder joint to do so much for us every day, it's no surprise that shoulder pain is second only to low back pain. In any given month, 20-30% of adults will report some shoulder pain. Fortunately, only 2% people per year see doctors for shoulder problems. The most common causes of shoulder pain are frozen shoulder and rotator cuff tears.

Most shoulder problems are initially treated with RICEN. This stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Add in NSAIDs like Motrin or Advil when possible. If you still have shoulder pain, High Dose Laser Therapy can bring remarkable results, even when more advanced treatments like cortisone shots and strong pain relievers have failed. Laser Therapy can bring rapid, lasting results.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, AKA adhesive capsulitis, causes stiff shoulders that hurt when they are moved. Often the pain is minor until you move your shoulder in a very specific position. This occurs most commonly between the ages of 40-60, but certainly can occur at any age over 30. In frozen shoulder, the capsule surrounding the joint thickens and becomes tight due to adhesions.

Frozen shoulders do not come on suddenly, they take 1-9 months to develop. The really stiff and painful period then lasts another 4-6 months. In many cases, the frozen shoulder will thaw, or improve, by itself. Unfortunately, this take 6-24 months. If you have diabetes, all of these times can be doubled.

Frozen shoulder can be treated by RICEN plus a time, unfortunately a very long time. If you need faster and stronger pain relief, then High Dose Laser Therapy or steroid injections can help you. If conservative therapy with RICEN does not cure the pain fast enough, laser pain therapy can be extremely effective. Class IV laser therapy reduces pain and treats the underlying problems.

Rotator Cuff Pain

The rotator cuff is a collection of tendons, ligaments, and bursa, or cushions, plus muscles that together allow the shoulder to achieve its remarkable mobility. Rotator cuff problems fall into two buckets: rotator cuff tendinitis and bursitis in one bucket, and rotator cuff tears in another bucket.

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis & Bursitis

In tendinitis of the shoulder, tendons become red, sore, and swollen from being pinched by parts around the shoulder. Bursitis occurs when the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that cushions the joint, becomes inflamed. Shoulder bursitis is sometimes caused by rheumatoid arthritis. It is also caused by playing sports that overuse the shoulder or by jobs with frequent overhead reaching.

Tendinitis and bursitis may occur alone or at the same time. Treatment consists of RICEN or if you want faster and more dramatic results, High Dose Laser Therapy.

Rotator Cuff Tear

Rotator cuff tendons connect the shoulder muscles to the bones in the shoulder joint. The tendon can suffer a partial or complete tear. Some tears are painful, and some are painless. If you have an acute painful rotator cuff tear with weakness then you may need surgery. If not, then either RICEN or High Dose Laser Therapy will likely benefit your shoulder.

Shoulder Pain & Injury Costs

Shoulder surgery can cost from $5,000- $18,000. While this may seem expensive, there are studies to indicate that lost work productivity costs billions of dollars annually. Therefore, the sooner you can get pain treatment and back to work, the better it is.

References and reading more about Shoulder Pain

  1. D. Pope, P. Croft, C. Pritchard, and A. Silman, "Prevalence of shoulder pain in the community: the influence of case definition," Ann Rheum Dis, vol. 56, no. 5, pp. 308-312, May 1997 [Online]. Available: /
  2. Frozen Shoulder - AAOS." [Online]. Available:
  3. "How Much Does Shoulder Surgery Cost? |" [Online]. Available
  4. Adhesive Capsulitis | Overview." [Online]. Available: I. Moren-Hybbinette, U. Moritz, and B. Schersten, "The painful diabetic shoulder," Acta Med Scand, vol. 219, no. 5, pp. 507-514, 1986.
  5. "Value of Orthopaedic Treatment: Rotator Cuff," A Nation in Motion. [Online]. Available:

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